Back when I was fresh out of college in 1996, all demo tapes were literally on tape. VHS tape didn’t yield very good quality, but in the age before burn-able DVDs and the internet, it was all we had. Everything was carefully labeled and put in a padded envelope, with the hopes that soon it would arrive on a news directors desk.
When I landed a job at WCAX, I found boxes and boxes of VHS tapes from job openings past and present. In fact, I found three tapes of my own. Nice to know they made it there. I’m still at WCAX but fifteen years later, technology has changed, and the way broadcast meteorologists apply for jobs has changed and continues to evolve.
Emails, online links and video hosting are now the standard. You have no idea how much you are saving on overnight postage these days. News directors will usually ask for links to video, hosted on the internet. Content is exchanged in seconds, and the person doing the hiring can know in a matter of moments whether they feel you are a good fit for their station. The need for a great resume tape hasn’t changed, just the means of distribution is different.
Over the past few years, a new trend has emerged. We are creating a lot more content, now as much online as on-air. It’s not just the three-minute hit at the weather wall, but also the Facebook post and the Twitter update. Prospective applicants have the opportunity to show so much more of their meteorological influence in the forms of blogs and social media. I’m now advocating to all of my graduating seniors at Lyndon State College that they have a website of their own set up to showcase their work and knowledge.
A personal website is an essential, personal corner of the web to show all of your on-air and online work. The great thing is that you don’t need a degree in computer science to have a website of your own. There are many options for website hosting that won’t cost you anything. Check out wordpress.com and wix.com to get you started. Ask around, there are many more out there. It may feel a little overwhelming at first but start out simple, and add from there. Here are a few ideas to include:
1. Make sure you have your most recent demo front and center. Don’t make it hard for anyone coming to the site to find your most important asset. The front page of you site should have a link to your video. Make sure the link works before you start sending it out for potential jobs. A nice quality head-shot or photo of you should highlight your front page as well.
2. Include your professional, social media accounts. Instead of making it hard for news directors to look around and see what you’ve been doing online, put those account front and center. Along the sidebar of your site you can usually add a Twitter or Facebook feed. Have an account that you use only for professional use and send out useful information. Use your Twitter account to network with other broadcast meteorologists (like @WCAX_Dan) and re-tweet things worth passing along. Show news directors that you are engaged in the social media scene and are able to curate good content.
3. Throw in lots of extra video. News directors will usually know in a few seconds whether they are interested in your material. Once you have their interest, its great to have extra video to show that you are way more than just a résumé tape. Anyone can cleverly edit hours of internship wall-work into five minutes of highlight reel, but a great meteorologist coming out of college will have multiple, full shows to display, from a period of several months. You can put them on a separate tab within your site, and its great when your site stats show that people are watching them.
4. If you have any reporting work, even better. News directors would love to see broadcast meteorologists who are also able to report. On a standard weather reel, the reporting usually gets pushed back in place of the meteorology. With your own site, you can show some of the stories you’ve produced, either in college or at an internship.
5. Finally, add something that you’re proud of, and makes you unique. We are all individuals, and are a whole lot more than broadcast meteorologists. Use your website to set yourself apart. Have a section that shows off your personality. Provide a link to a special project or hobby you are passionate about. As long as you feel that it would cast yourself and your future station in a positive light, share it with the world. Are you great with weather graphics, love to visit schools, or happen to host a cooking show on campus TV? This is a great place to show news directors what separates you from the rest of the pack.
Be creative, be honest, and be authentic. Your website will follow you and grow throughout your career. You might not always be looking for a job, but you’ll always have a site to fall back on when you are. If you are graduating in May, now is the time to start thinking about developing a site of your own. I also plan to roll out a section on broadcastmet.com devoted to showcasing the websites of broadcast meteorologists. If you would like to be included in that upcoming directory, please let me know.